Mudryk worse than Rob Green: Ranking ‘billion pound bottle jobs’ Chelsea’s last 50 signings

Jason Soutar
Mykhaylo Mudryk, Cole Palmer and Thiago Silva all feature in our ranking of Chelsea's last 50 signings.
Mykhaylo Mudryk, Cole Palmer and Thiago Silva all feature in our ranking of Chelsea's last 50 signings.

Chelsea have made some suspect signings since Todd Boehly bought the club, though there were plenty of terrible purchases in the Roman Abramovich era. Including every new face who joined last summer, here is a ranking of Chelsea’s last 50 signings. It is very bleak.

N’Golo Kante and Antonio Rudiger were taken out after the post-summer update, which has made the list a lot worse, but Tiemoue Bakayoko, Alvaro Morata and Davide Zappacosta were also removed to make way for three of Chelsea’s several summer signings, making the list a bit better. Danny Drinkwater, you’re next, buddy.

Prices, as always, are taken from Transfermarkt. Oh, and the numbers in brackets next to the transfer fees are where they were placed when this list was created in February 2023.

 

50) Romelu Lukaku (£99.8m) (50)
The worst of the lot is Chelsea’s record signing. Lukaku was signed off the back of a historic campaign with Inter and hit the ground running with a brilliant performance in his second Blues debut as he made Arsenal defender Pablo Mari look like a little boy.

It then all went a bit Pete Tong. Lukaku did a controversial interview in which he explained how much he loved Inter and how playing under Thomas Tuchel was not what he expected. It was never the same after that.

After a season on loan back at Inter, Lukaku returned to Cobham as an outcast under new manager Mauricio Pochettino. After being left in transfer limbo for the majority of the summer window, the experienced striker joined Roma on loan for the year.

 

49) Danny Drinkwater (£33.5m) (48)
Just a disastrous signing all round. Drinkwater joined a year after N’Golo Kante and had nowhere near the same effect. After poor performances whenever he was given the chance, he was loaned out to Burnley, then Aston Villa, then Turkish side Kasimpasa before joining Championship outfit Reading until the summer of 2022.

 

48) Kalidou Koulibaly (£33.6m) (39)
Koulibaly made a mug of this guy by moving to the Premier League for a single, terrible season before Chelsea got bailed out by Al Hilal.

 

47) Mykhaylo Mudryk (£62m) (23)
Mudryk has been very poor for Chelsea after joining with high expectations on the back of some tantalising transfer drama between the Blues and Arsenal, who will probably sign him for £50m next year.

 

46) Marc Cucurella (£57.6m) (41)
Cucurella’s 2021/22 campaign with Brighton was absolutely brilliant. He quickly adapted to Premier League football after a £16m move from Getafe but hasn’t even looked half the player since moving to Stamford Bridge in 2022. His signing is one of Todd Boehly’s biggest mistakes at Chelsea.

 

45) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.6m) (38)
Sticking with shocking signings from Boehly’s first summer window, Aubameyang joined from Barcelona for not an awful lot of money and still somehow failed to live up to the price tag. He joined Marseille after a dismal year at the Bridge. That number nine shirt really is cursed.

 

44) Rob Green (free) (44)
Green was a bit of a meme during his time at Chelsea. He will only be remembered for celebrating the Blues’ Europa League final victory against London rivals Arsenal.

 

43) Marcus Bettinelli (free) (42)
Bettinelli was signed for nothing and has only played once for the club, so it is hard to criticise him.

 

42) Saul Niguez (£4.4m loan fee) (37)
Chelsea love an extortionate loan fee. One of the worst ever deals was Radamel Falcao’s move to Stamford Bridge, but that transfer was too long ago for this list.

Saul joined with a good reputation and was a top-class midfielder at one point. He signed for the Blues already past his best even at the age of 26 and was hooked at half-time on his debut. It didn’t get much better from there.

 

41) Gonzalo Higuain (£6.9m loan fee) (36)
Speaking of terrible loan deals with big fees…Higuain scored five goals in 18 matches for the Blues. Even if it was a bit late in the day, it was nice to see him play in Our League.

 

40) Ross Barkley (£15m) (30)
Barkley broke onto the scene with Everton and many tipped him to be the next Paul Gascoigne. It’s safe to say that did not happen. The fact he has eclipsed anything he did in four-and-a-half years at Chelsea in seven months at Luton speaks volumes about Barkley’s time in west London.

 

39) Emerson Palmieri (£17.7m) (35)
Now plying his trade at West Ham, Emerson was signed alongside Barkley and Olivier Giroud in January 2018.

 

38) Joao Felix (£11m loan fee) (32)
Felix joined for the second half of 22/23 with Boehly forking out an extortionate £11m loan fee and covering the player’s £8m salary. The 24-year-old did not join permanently after an underwhelming stint under Graham Potter and Frank Lampard.

READ MORE: Joao Felix below only one huge flop in 15 most expensive loan players in history

 

37) Omari Hutchinson (free) (24)
Like most free transfers, you cannot go wrong. Arsenal fans were pretty gutted to see Hutchinson leave but the player will be even more gutted having witnessed his new club sign player after player in his position. A route in to the first team seems impossible for the 19-year-old, who is at Ipswich on loan for the season.

 

36) Diego Moreira (free) (36)
Signed for nothing in the summer, Moreira spent the first six months of the season on loan at Lyon. It did not go well for him.

 

35) Malang Sarr (free) (18)
Sarr has not impressed but was signed for nothing.

 

34) Deivid Washington (£13.7m) (35)
Boehly has loved investing in young Brazilians. Let’s wait and see if it is a good transfer policy.

 

33) Kepa Arrizabalaga (£72m) (40)
Kepa looked alright last season, but he is still pretty unreliable and looks nowhere near a £72m goalkeeper. It is hard to envision him playing for Chelsea again after his loan spell at Real Madrid. It’s even harder to envision him playing for Real Madrid again when Thibaut Courtois returns from injury.

 

32) Timo Werner (£47m) (28)
Darwin Nunez and Timo Werner may be the exact same player. Whenever Darwin has a poor game in front of goal people say, ‘He is making all of the right runs, he will come good soon’. People said the exact same thing about Werner, who is currently at Chelsea’s rivals, Tottenham, on loan.

The German missed more big chances for Chelsea in two years than I have had hot dinners in 28.

 

31) David Datro Fofana (£10.6m) (20)
Can anyone else see Fofana being someone who plays four times for Chelsea before leaving for £2.5m in 2026?

 

30) Christian Pulisic (£56.7m) (27)
‘The LeBron James of soccer’ has definitely boosted Chelsea’s American fandom, but that is probably the only good thing you can say about this deal.

A move to AC Milan has done his career the world of good. He is flying in Italy.

 

29) Gabriel Slonina (£8m) (14)
Plenty of Chelsea fans like Slonina but seeing him move to KAS Eupen on loan and Djordje Petrovic joining from New England Revolution is not a good sign.

 

28) Ethan Ampadu (£2.5m) (25)
Ampadu could not get a sniff for Chelsea, who eventually sold him this summer for a sweet £5.5m profit. Well done, Chelsea. Great work.

 

27) Hakim Ziyech (£35.4m) (21)
Chelsea fans seem to love or hate Ziyech. Either way, he was not great for the Blues after a brilliant spell with Ajax.

 

26) Andrey Santos (£11m) (19)
The Brazilian joined Nottingham Forest on loan but couldn’t get any game time and was shipped out to sister club Strasbourg in January.

 

25) Lesley Ugochukwu (£23.1m) (25)
Ugochukwu is a promising midfielder but is behind Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia – who is a Chelsea player, believe it or not – in the pecking order.

 

24) Romeo Lavia (£52.9m) (17)
£52.9m is a lot of money to spend on a teenager, but Pochettino and Boehly clearly have a lot of faith in young Lavia, who did enjoy a stellar 22/23 in a poor Southampton team. Lavia has been injured all season, except for 32 minutes of a match against Crystal Palace. Not great.

 

23) Robert Sanchez (£19.6m) (13)
We called it and it happened. Proud as punch, we are. Sanchez is a decent enough ‘keeper but he will always be remembered for being dropped for Jason Steele.

 

22) Carney Chukwuemeka (£16m) (15)
There was lots of interest in Chukwuemeka with Chelsea winning the race ahead of the likes of Borussia Dortmund.

 

21) Noni Madueke (£30.8m) (33)
Chelsea really did not have to make this signing but he has arguably produced more than any other new signing in a dismal 22/23 campaign. Madueke was a rare bright spot for the Blues last term and enjoyed a great summer with England’s Under-21s.

 

20) Nicolas Jackson (£31.5m) (20)
Jackson has shown promise in his early days at Chelsea but does not appear to be the out-and-out No. 9 this team needs so badly. He runs the channels very well and can show moments of excellence with the ball at his feet but Pochettino needs a ruthless striker and it is clear Jackson is not that guy.

 

19) Raheem Sterling (£50m) (26)
Sterling has been bitterly disappointing since leaving Manchester City but he hasn’t turned rubbish overnight. He still gets in Chelsea’s strongest XI.

 

18) Malo Gusto (£26.7m) (17)
Chelsea really needed to sign a new right-back/right-wing-back. Reece James’ injuries have been a big worry, especially with his replacements in the team performing nowhere near the England international’s level.

Gusto was below average at the start of the season but has come into his own in recent weeks. His Carabao Cup final performance was one to forget, though.

 

17) Moises Caicedo (£98.9m) (12)
Caicedo is young, yet a brilliant, Premier League-proven midfielder. But blimey, £99m? That is a lot of wonga. The pressure is on and so far he has underwhelmed. It is not a good sign that his transfer fee is mentioned every time he plays.

Chelsea duo Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo compete for the ball.

 

16) Benoit Badiashile (£33.7m) (22)
21-year-old Badiashile was signed in January for quite a lot of money, becoming the fourth defender Chelsea bought last season.

 

15) Axel Disasi (£38.3m) (19)
Chelsea bloody love a French centre-back, don’t they? Disasi seems like a competent defender, which is always ideal. Is he better than Benoit Badiashile, Levi Colwill, Wesley Fofana and Thaigo Silva, though? You can decide…

 

14) Djordje Petrovic (£12m) (24)
Petrovic has shown in his time in the starting XI that he is better than Robert Sanchez and will probably remain No. 1 until the end of the season with the Spaniard fully fit again.

 

13) Wesley Fofana (£71m) (16)
There is being injury prone like Reece James (missing a few matches a little too often) and then there is being injury prone like Wesley Fofana (picking up serious injuries on an annual basis). It is less than ideal but if he can stay fit, the Frenchman can be a regular in the Chelsea defence for the next decade.

 

12) Denis Zakaria (£2.6m loan fee) (13)
Enough said.

 

11) Enzo Fernandez (£108m) (29)
There is no doubting Fernandez’s ability. He won the Young Player of the Tournament at the World Cup, playing a huge part in Argentina’s success in Qatar.

Like with Caicedo, the only doubt is the transfer fee. Fernandez is now the most expensive player in British football history. For that price he cannot afford many bad games. And in fairness, he hasn’t had many so far. Unfortunately, though, he hasn’t had too many outstanding games.

 

10) Billy Gilmour (£1.5m) (11)
Gilmour was snapped up from Rangers as a teenager and was evidently a great piece of scouting. The Scottish midfielder was never given enough of a chance to play consistently for the Chelsea first team, with his loan spell at Norwich City doing him no favours whatsoever.

Sold to Brighton for a measly £7.3m, Gilmour has massively improved now he is playing regularly, which is thanks to Caicedo’s move to Stamford Bridge.

 

9) Christopher Nkunku (£51.1m) (6)
After scoring 70 goals and providing 56 assists in 172 games for RB Leipzig, Nkunku suffered an injury before the 23/24 season got underway. After returning, the Frenchman has been unable to nail down a starting spot but the quality is there and if anyone can solve Chelsea’s goalscoring woes, he is the man for the job.

 

8) Kai Havertz (£71m) (12)
Havertz scored the only goal in the Champions League final against Manchester City in 2021 and without that strike his ranking here would be a lot worse. Another plus for Chelsea is that they sold Havertz for £64m after what was a bitterly disappointing three years in west London. It wasn’t transfer profit but it was a lot more than they would have dreamed of recouping.

 

7) Olivier Giroud (£15m) (9)
Signed from London rivals Arsenal, Giroud scored against the Gunners in the 2019 Europa League final then proceeded to take the p*ss out of his former employers on the way home. For that alone, he was a brilliant signing.

 

6) Ben Chilwell (£44.5m) (8)
Chilwell has been a good signing for Chelsea, though sixth place flatters him. He has his useless teammates to thank for that.

 

5) Cole Palmer (£40.3m) (23)
Palmer has been Boehly’s best signing by a country mile and has quickly established himself as Pochettino’s most important, and most heavily relied on player.

Four Champions League winners rank higher than the ex-Manchester City man, who is ahead of Chilwell by a considerable margin but also a long way off surpassing those above him.

On reflection, ranking him in 23rd last September looks harsh, but it was a pretty surprising signing and nobody saw these performances coming. He is a serious player and will surely go to Euro 2024 with England a year on from inspiring the Young Lions to glory at the Under-21 Euros.

 

4) Jorginho (£50.5m) (7)
Jorginho had a strange Blues career. At times he looks like one of the best midfielders in the Premier League, but he also sometimes looks completely out of his depth – slow, weak, and a liability. Having said that, he is one of few players on this list that can be regarded as a successful signing.

Thankfully for Arsenal, the Italian is aging nicely and seems to perform very well whenever Mikel Arteta calls upon him.

 

3) Edouard Mendy (£21.2m) (5)
Mendy joined Chelsea in September 2020 and instantly improved a position that desperately needed to be addressed. Kepa was shifted to the bench for the Senegal goalkeeper – who looked steady from day one.

However, Mendy won the African Cup of Nations and returned to club duty with a permanent hangover. He has been error-prone and unreliable since then and was sold to Al Ahly last summer.

 

2) Mateo Kovacic (£40m) (4)
Kovacic is a wonderful, underrated, player. £40m at the time was a big fee for someone who barely played for Real Madrid, but Chelsea would have been silly not to pay it given the fact they were about to be placed under a transfer embargo.

The Croatian helped Chelsea win the Champions League and Europa League and recently completed a permanent switch to Manchester City.

 

1) Thiago Silva (free) (2)
One of the best free transfers in Premier League history, Silva signed from Paris Saint-Germain and instantly improved Chelsea’s defence.

The experienced Brazilian is still going strong at the age of 38 and would be Chelsea’s latest captain if he wasn’t a year or two away from retirement.

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